That's a word that is foreign to Christians in the United States. Persecution only happens in other countries, not here in America. Over the past two millennia, though, and in far too many places around the world it is just life as usual for those who have chosen to follow Jesus.
Our knowledge of persecution is largely academic; it's never been a part of our experience as members of American churches. I think that is beginning to change, however gradually. And Christians in America, Canada, and most of the Western world are not ready for it.
I have heard some Christians say, "Well, when it gets too bad Jesus is going to come and rapture us out of here." My response is, "That may be true. Then again, it may not. It may just be our turn to suffer for Christ."
Now, I don't know when Christ will return and usher in the Age to Come. And despite the charts, graphs, and timetables too many self-styled experts on end-time events set forth, neither do they. In the meantime, whether the coming of our Lord is imminent or not, the persecution and suffering of God's people, which began with the earliest Christians, will continue until Jesus does come.
The question is: Are you ready to be hated? Jesus warned us it would come and it is a daily reality for many Christians around the world. Are you prepared to be scorned and ridiculed for being a believer? Would you be willing to lose your job, be exiled from family and community to follow Jesus? How about having your children taken away, your possessions confiscated, your home destroyed? What if you were to be arrested and imprisoned? Tortured and abused? Killed, even?
What price are you willing to pay to hold to your confession of faith in Christ? I think these are questions we need to consider as hatred for Christians continues to grow in our part of the globe. Do I think such things will happen soon? No, I don't think so, but at the speed in which things develop in our world today nothing is certain. I may or may not live to see it, but I certainly fear for my children and grandchildren.
Christians in the United States and the Western world had better wake up and prepare themselves. Know your Bible, cultivate the discipline of daily prayer, repent of sinful carelessness in your life, become part of a local congregation of believers. And learn some good strong hymns that convey sound doctrine and Biblical truth. You may need them for songs in the night.